Apple vs Samsung (again): let the nitpicking begin

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Apple’s “rubber band” scrolling patents are invalid. So says the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in a preliminary ruling in the ongoing patent saga. This means that for the time being at least, this part of Apple’s claims of patent violation against the Korean smartphone maker will for now not stand.

The USPTO has found evidence of prior existence of this feature in previous technology, but also that the invention was deemed to be quite obvious. This means that Apple would not be allowed to lay claim to such patents as its own. This is a bolster for Samsung, who have started to pull the end-of-menu bounce feature from most of its smartphones, in that it could be included again in future projects.

This will open a huge door for the smartphone giant, as Samsung has the opportunity to petition the judgement of US District Court Judge Lucy Koh in the US$1.05-billion damages awarded to Apple. This specific patent (patent #7 469 381) is only one of many in a legal clash that has been growing ever since.

This patent was re-examined by officials and concluded, for now at least, that it was invalid as it was not new, said intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller. “Apple’s rubber-banding (overscroll-bounce) patent is still going to go through a lengthy process before it may or may not be invalidated,” Mueller said in a blog post.

The USPTO has come under fire before for “handing out patents like candy”. Maybe things will become a bit more fair in the court room?

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